Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Obedience

Gospel Doctrine 2017: Lesson 27: “They Must Needs Be Chastened and Tried, Even as Abraham”

1. The Saints settle in Jackson County, Missouri, and are later driven out.

D&C 57:2-3 This is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion

‘It is of this city, a city that shall be built before the Second Coming, that the Lord said to Enoch: “I shall prepare, and Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.” (Moses 7:62.) It is in this city, the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, that the house of the Lord unto which all nations shall come in the last days shall be built, “which temple,” the Lord said in September 1832, “shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.” (D&C 84:1-5.)

Because the saints were “hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression,” the Lord withdrew the time limitation (D&C 124:49-54), and the command now in force is: “Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time.” (D&C 136:18.) When that is to be remains to be seen, but that it will surely come to pass, as part of the preparation of the Lord’s people for his glorious return, is as certain as that the sun shines or that the Great God is Lord of all. When the appointed time comes, the Lord will reveal it to his servants who preside over his kingdom from Salt Lake City, and then the great work will go forward. They will direct the work; they hold the keys of temple building; the temple will be built by gathered Israel and particularly by Ephraim, for it is unto Ephraim that the other tribes shall come to receive their temple blessings in due course. Some Lamanites may assist and some Gentiles may bring their wealth to adorn the buildings, but the keys are with Ephraim, and it is Ephraim that is now stepping forth and that yet shall step forth to bless the rest of the house of Israel.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 281.)

D&C 63:24 Not in haste

‘President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that land in Zion was to be purchased. “This fact was taught the early members. They were warned against creating antagonism among their neighbors, many of whom were extremely bitter towards the members of the Church. The Lord said the land could not be obtained by the shedding of blood. Those who had the privilege of assembling there should not go up to Zion in haste, but gradually. The reason for this advice is apparent, for haste would lead to confusion, unsatisfactory conditions and pestilence, and then, also, it creates consternation and fear in the hearts of their enemies and arouses greater opposition. Satan desired to destroy them and in his anger endeavored to stir them up to strife and contention as well as the older settlers in Missouri.” (Church History and Modern Revelation,1:232.)’ Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

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2. The Lord instructs the Saints who were driven from Jackson County.

Read: Revelations in Context – Waiting for the Word of the Lord

Read: Joseph Smith Papers – Historical Introduction D&C 101

Watch: The Lord Tests His People President Faust teaches that the Lord tests His people (D&C 101:1-19). (1:23)

D&C 101:2 I, the Lord, have suffered affliction to come upon them

‘The Lord has told us in this book that he would scourge this people, and would not suffer them to go on in wickedness as he does the world. He will make a difference in this respect between those who profess his name and the world. The world may prosper. They have not the religion of Heaven among them; they have no revelators and prophets among them; they have not the baptism of the Holy Ghost, nor the gifts and blessings of God among them, and consequently though they transgress the revealed word of God, he suffers them to go on, apparently without checking them, until they are fully ripened in iniquity, then he sends forth judgment and cuts them off, instead of chastening them from time to time. Not so with the Saints. God has decreed, from the early rise of the Church, that we should be afflicted by our enemies, and by various afflictions, and he would contend with this people and chasten them from time to time until Zion should be clean before him. He has done this, and more especially while we were in the States. We were inexperienced, and did not then understand the necessity of strictly obeying every word spoken by the mouth of God, and we had to suffer because of this.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 15:335)

‘This great tribulation would not have come upon Zion had it not been for rebellion: Firstly, there were rebellions against the one to whom were entrusted the keys, & from thence it has spread down to the lowest & least member! not this alone, but those who were void of understanding were continually telling that which was not true, & putting false coloring to the things of  God! I mean those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling! & the church will never have peace while such remain in her, therefore, brethren purge them out, & have no confidence in any except such as will lay down their lives for this sacred cause for none others are worthy of it. It was necessary that these things should come upon us: not only justice demands it, but there was no other way to cleanse the church. (Oliver Cowdery, Letter to Missouri, 10 August 1833; josephsmithpapers.org)

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D&C 101:4 They must be chastened and tried

“Don’t be afraid of the testing and trials of life. Sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea, for like the experience of the Master himself in the temptation on the mount, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross at Calvary, the scriptures record, ‘And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.’ (Matthew 4:11.) Sometimes that may happen to you in the midst of your trials.” (Harold B lee, In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference 1973, p. 114.)

3. Zion’s Camp is organized and marches to Missouri.

Read: Joseph Smith and Zion’s Camp (Ensign June 2005) The gospel lessons learned during the two months of Zion’s Camp defined and refined the Prophet Joseph Smith and others as leaders of the Church.

Read: Revelations in Context – The Acceptable Offering of Zion’s Camp

Watch: Zion’s Camp Several events from the march of Zion’s Camp show how it fulfilled the purposes of God.

Read: We also marched – the women and children of Zion’s Camp Much like the women of the Mormon Battalion and other military expeditions, the Zion’s Camp women contributed in various ways to the overall character of the group and its success and helped prepare for later mass migrations to the West. The women helped with the traditional domestic duties of cooking and laundering and caring for children. They also provided a civilizing influence on the camp. This article tells the stories of twelve women and several children known to have traveled with the more than 200 men of Zion’s Camp. Also, a woman (Ruth Vose) made the largest financial contribution to the funding of the march.

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‘According to its ostensible purpose, [Zion’s Camp] was a failure. But most of the men who were to lead the Church for the next half-century, including those who would take the Saints across the plains and colonize the Intermountain West, came to know the Prophet Joseph and received their formative leadership training in the march of Zion’s Camp. As Elder Orson F. Whitney said of Zion’s Camp:

“The redemption of Zion is more than the purchase or recovery of lands, the building of cities, or even the founding of nations. It is the conquest of the heart, the subjugation of the soul, the sanctifying of the flesh, the purifying and ennobling of the passions.” (The Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2d ed., Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1945, p. 65.’) [Dallin H Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 61-62]

D&C 103:9 They were set to be a light to the world

‘It is easy to despair when we see about us the moorings of society slipping. We must remember, however, that the Lord sent His Saints into the world “to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men.” (D&C 103:9.) This is a time when “Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” (D&C 82:14.) The contrast between the Church and the world will be increasingly marked in the future, which contrast, we hope, will cause the Church to be more attractive to those in the world who desire to live according to God’s plan for us, His children.’  (Ezra Taft Benson, “May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, May 1978, 33)

4. The Lord reveals that His people must “wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion.”

Watch: Gather in Stakes The Lord has commanded us to gather in stakes (D&C 101:20-22,63-75). (1:17)

D&C 103:7 They shall never cease to prevail

“There cannot be a doubt in any faithful man’s mind concerning the truth of this promise—the promise of victory and deliverance on the one hand, the promise of punishment, disaster and trouble on the other. The Latter-day Saints have in their experience proved fully the truth of these words. They have seen them fulfilled to the very letter. When they have been faithful in keeping the commandments of God they have prospered and they have had deliverance. When they have been unfaithful they met with trouble and serious difficulty. It is necessary that the wicked should have the opportunity to exercise their agency in relation to the work of God; for they have an agency as well as we. It is their privilege to assist in building up the word of God, or they can exercise their agency in fighting the work of God. They have the privilege to do everything in their power to destroy it, and they will be permitted to do this until the cup of their iniquity is full.” (George Q Cannon, In Conference Report, Oct. 1899, p. 48.)

D&C 105:3-4 They have not learned to be obedient

“In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord reveals that Zion cannot be established ‘unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.’…

“The Lord commanded the Saints in 19th-century New York, for example, to make sure that they took care of the poor and unfortunate among them. He also commanded them in the same revelation to be united, for if they were not one they were not his people. He gave these commandments to them as they were preparing to leave New York to go to Ohio in 1831. This was the first step in gathering to Zion in Jackson County, Missouri. Within eight months of these instructions some of these members were already in Independence. Two years later mobs drove them out. Subsequently the Lord explained in a revelation the reason he had allowed this to happen: they had not done as he had instructed-they were not taking care of the unfortunate, and they were not united.

“Thus it would appear that taking care of the unfortunate and being united according to the model of the celestial kingdom are high on the Lord’s list of expectations for his people. When we covenant with him to sacrifice and to consecrate ourselves and all we have to his service, we need to make these covenants manifest in our lives.

“In the revelation explaining why ‘mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion,’ the Lord said it was so that ‘they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.’ Today, nearly 163 years later, we may well ask ourselves if we as individuals and families are preparing more perfectly for the establishment of Zion.” (Robert J. Woodford, “The Remarkable Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 47-48)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 26: “Go Ye into All the World, and Preach My Gospel”

1. The Lord poured out great blessings during the Kirtland period.

While the Prophet Joseph was living in the Kirtland area, he received numerous revelations, 65 of which are included in the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations taught the Lord’s will in connection with welfare, sign seeking, moral conduct, dietary principles, tithing, priesthood authority, the role of a prophet, the three degrees of glory, missionary work, the Second Coming, the law of consecration, and many other subjects.

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2. The Saints in Kirtland made great sacrifices to share the gospel.

Read: Revelations in Context: ‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries

Read: Revelations in Context: A Mission to the Lamanites

Read: Revelations in Context: Take Special Care of Your Family

Watch: This Grand Opportunity  Elizabeth McCune and the First Sister Missionaries

The Saints in the 1830s had very little money. At tremendous sacrifice they had constructed a temple. The United States at that time was gripped by a spirit of financial speculation, which resulted in a financial crash in 1837. In Kirtland, people turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith and a great sifting took place between the faithful and those whose eyes were set upon the things of the world.

It was in these difficult times, on Sunday, 4 June 1837, that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, while Brother Kimball in the Kirtland Temple, and whispering to [him], said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: ‘Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’ ”

Imagine, one man who had very little telling another who had practically nothing that he was to go across the sea to open the work there.

One can understand Heber C. Kimball’s response. Feeling his weakness he said, “O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!”

Brother Kimball said at the time: “The idea of such a mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I was almost ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me.”

“However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; and although my family was dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.” (Ibid., p. 104.)

Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding responded with similar faith, and these four were joined in New York by John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder.

Tuesday, June 13, was the scheduled departure date for the four who were to leave Kirtland. One who looked in on the Kimball household that morning described the prayer that was uttered by the father who was leaving and who  laid his hands upon his childrens’ heads to give them a blessing

“While thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them. The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. His emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks.”

After eighteen days and eighteen hours on the water the ship pulled into the Mersey. They spent a few days in Liverpool seeking direction from the Lord, and then felt the confirming whispering of the Spirit directing them to go to Preston. There they found a city in a state of excitement over elections for members of Parliament. Queen Victoria had ascended the throne three days earlier and had called for a national election.

As they came up the street in Preston, a banner unfurled before them with the words “Truth Will Prevail.”

This they adopted as the motto of their mission. It may seem a strange motto for a political party today but it is a motto that we could do well to adopt

In a dark and troubled hour the Lord said to those He loved: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Heber C Kimball and his colleagues took heart from the simple motto truth will prevail. They then worked as hard as they could with body mind and spirit to share the Gospel. The Lord then blessed them with success in their work.

D&C 42:6 Go forth in the power of my Spirit

‘The power of a missionary is not determined by his or her height, weight, or physical prowess. Nor is it determined by his or her smoothness of tongue or cleverness of mind. It is, however, determined by his or her receptivity to the Spirit and willingness to heed its promptings.

To go forth in the power of the Spirit means that a missionary must be taught and led by the Spirit and must teach by the Spirit. Therefore, the conscientious missionary courts the Holy Spirit every day of his mission. Such courting involves the exercise of faith, prayer, study, work, and righteous living. All of this is done with these promises in mind: (1) “The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:14) and (2) “If ye will . . . receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5). There is also the instruction that “if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).

Missionaries must bear in mind that the Spirit or Holy Ghost enables a missionary to speak persuasively with “the tongue of angels” (2 Ne. 32:2). It serves as a conduit, if you will, through which the message passes from a missionary’s heart to the heart of the listener. It is the power that converts.’ (Carlos E Asay, The Seven M’s of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 4)

D&C 88:81 Warn the people

‘We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

3. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve taught thousands in England.

Read: Brigham Young in England

Read: History of the Church in Great Britain

D&C 112:21 Power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation

‘When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. Even in persecution and hardship, they went and opened doors which evidently have been allowed to sag on their hinges and many of them to close. I remember that these fearless men were teaching the gospel in Indian lands before the Church was even fully organized. As nearly as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland 1853, Italy 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. When you look at the progress we have made in some countries, with no progress in many of their nearby countries, it makes us wonder. Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.

These men of valor began to walk the earth with dignity and honor, with mantles on their shoulders and keys in their hands and love in their hearts.’ (Spencer W Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6)

4. Many Saints in Kirtland remained valiant despite persecution.

‘Saints who looked back on this period learned some compelling lessons of which we today need to be aware. One of the pointed lessons we learn from the Kirtland apostasy is that no one should consider himself secure from the loss of faith. Pride, criticism, speculation, envy, greed—these are enough to cause the most faithful to stumble. Parley P. Pratt, for example, declared that “envyings, lyings, strifes and divisions” caused “trouble and sorrow” in Kirtland. He admitted that he was a victim of these failings. But the Lord knew his faith—his “integrity of purpose”—and helped him in his victory against an opposing spirit.

Orson Hyde recalled that, because he acted foolishly during this period of darkness, he temporarily lost “the light of the Holy Ghost.” Luke S. Johnson admitted that his mind became darkened and he neglected his Church responsibilities after he had “partaken of the spirit of speculation.

And yet, through it all, 87 percent of the Kirtland Saints continued to nurture their faith. They continued to sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet, sacrificing nearly all their material possessions rather than forsake the restored gospel. Despite opposition, they sacrificed their homes, the sacred temple they had built, and even their lives to carry the work of the Lord forward. We would do well to emulate their example.’ (Milton V Backman, A Warning from Kirtland, Ensign, April 1989)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 18: “Establish … a House of God”

1. The Lord commanded the Saints to build the Kirtland Temple.

See Revelations in Context: A School and an Endowment

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D&C 88:119 Establish a house

‘Where could any of us locate a more suitable blueprint whereby we could wisely and properly build a house to personally occupy throughout eternity? Such a house would meet the building code outlined in Matthew-even a house built “upon a rock,” a house capable of withstanding the rains of adversity, the floods of opposition, and the winds of doubt everywhere present in our challenging world.

Some might question: “But that revelation was to provide guidance for the construction of a temple. Is it relevant today?”

I would respond: “Did not the Apostle Paul declare, ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ ” (1 Cor. 3:16)

Perhaps if we consider these architectural guidelines on an individual basis, we can more readily appreciate this divine counsel from the Master Builder, the Creator of the world, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.’  (Thomas S Monson, “Building Your Eternal Home,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 2)

2. The Saints were blessed for their great sacrifices in building the temple.

D&C 109:5 We have done this work through great tribulation; and out of poverty

“Work had begun on the temple on June 5, 1833. For the next three years the Saints endured many trials and hardships in order to build a house for the Lord.

“Most of the people had few possessions and little money. But every able man worked one day each week on the temple. They worked in the quarry, cutting sandstone to form the walls of the temple. They worked as carpenters, painters, teamsters, and in many other jobs. Sometimes as many as a hundred men worked on the temple at a time. The women spun, knitted, wove, and sewed to make draperies and carpets. They also made clothing and food for the construction workers.

“Everyone was busy, but it was not just the Saints’ time and talents that the Lord required. The large three-story building cost between $40,000 and $60,000, an enormous amount of money at a time when the average worker earned only around two or three dollars a day. Many of the Saints gave almost everything they had to build the temple. (Sherrie Johnson, “A House for the Lord,” Friend, June 1993, 48)

“When the Saints received the initial instructions to build this temple, the Kirtland branch numbered only about one hundred members. Many converts, including most who joined the Church in Kirtland township, had migrated to western Missouri, the main gathering place for the Saints. Subsequently, in 1833 Latter-day Saints were not only few in number but they also owned fewer than two hundred acres and lacked money for such a project as building a temple. In 1833 only ten members of the Church were assessed a land or personal property tax (the latter tax being an assessment on horses, cattle, or merchandise). Moreover, not one member in that community had practical architectural knowledge of the kind needed for planning a major building. They did not lack faith, however; they believed the revelation that they would receive guidance from the Lord.” (Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black, eds., The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988], 209.)

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3. Joseph Smith dedicated the Kirtland Temple.

‘[After the dedicatory prayer [D&C 109] and the choir singing “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning”] I then asked the several quorums separately, and then the congregation, if they accepted the dedication prayer, and acknowledged the house dedicated. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative, in every instance.

The Lord’s Supper was then administered; President Don Carlos Smith blessed the bread and the wine, which was distributed by several Elders to the Church; after which I bore record of my mission, and of the ministration of angels.

President Don Carlos Smith also bore testimony of the truth of the work of the Lord in which we were engaged.

President Oliver Cowdery testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and of the work of the Lord in these last days.

President Frederick G. Williams arose and testified that while President Rigdon was making his first prayer, an angel entered the window and took his seat between Father Smith and himself, and remained there during the prayer.

President David Whitmer also saw angels in the house.

President Hyrum Smith made some appropriate remarks congratulating those who had endured so many toils and privations to build the house.

President Rigdon then made a few appropriate closing remarks, and a short prayer, at the close of which we sealed the proceedings of the day by shouting hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb, three times, sealing it each time with amen, amen, and amen.

President Brigham Young gave a short address in tongues, and David W. Patten interpreted, and gave a short exhortation in tongues himself, after which I blessed the congregation in the name of the Lord, and the assembly dispersed a little past four o’clock, having manifested the most quiet demeanor during the whole exercise.'(History of the Church, 2:427-428)

Read: 6 things to remember about the Kirtland Temple

D&C 109:7 By study and also by faith

‘We seek learning by studying the accumulated wisdom of various disciplines and by using the powers of reasoning placed in us by our Creator.

We should also seek learning by faith in God, the giver of revelation. I believe that many of the great discoveries and achievements in science and the arts have resulted from a God-given revelation. Seekers who have paid the price in perspiration have been magnified by inspiration.

The acquisition of knowledge by revelation is an extra bonus to seekers in the sciences and the arts, but it is the fundamental method for those who seek to know God and the doctrines of his gospel. In this area of knowledge, scholarship and reason are insufficient.

A seeker of truth about God must rely on revelation. I believe this is what the Book of Mormon prophet meant when he said, “To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”  2 Ne. 9:29 It is surely what the Savior taught when he said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”  (Matt. 16:17)’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 1989)

4. The Lord accepted the Kirtland Temple, and ancient prophets restored priesthood keys.

D&C 95:8 Power from on high

‘Worthiness to hold a temple recommend gives us the strength to keep our temple covenants. How do we personally gain that strength? We strive to obtain a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the reality of the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We sustain our leaders, treat our families with kindness, stand as a witness of the Lord’s true Church, attend our Church meetings, honor our covenants, fulfill parental obligations, and live a virtuous life. You may say that sounds like just being a faithful Latter-day Saint! You are right. The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets.

Then, as endowed temple recommend holders, we establish patterns of Christlike living. These include obedience, making sacrifices to keep the commandments, loving one another, being chaste in thought and action, and giving of ourselves to build the kingdom of God. Through the Savior’s Atonement and by following these basic patterns of faithfulness, we receive “power from on high”  Doctrine and Covenants 95:8 to face the challenges of life. We need this divine power today more than ever. It is power we receive only through temple ordinances. I testify that the sacrifices we make to receive temple ordinances are worth every effort we can make.’ (Robert D Hales, General Conference, April 2012)

D&C 110:1–3. Why Did the Prophet Use Figurative Language to Describe the Glorified Christ?

‘A complete description of the glorified Savior in human language is probably not possible. But by comparing the indescribable things of a spiritual realm to things within our comprehension, the Prophet could give us some sense of the glory and appearance of the Lord.The language of the Prophet’s description is similar to that of the descriptions written by Daniel (see Daniel10:4–8) and by John the Revelator (see Revelation 1:13–17).’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 110:4 Our advocate with the Father

Read: Our advocate with the Father

D&C 110:7. What Was the Relationship between the Sacrifice of the Saints in Building the Kirtland Temple and the Appearance of the Savior?

‘The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things” (Teachings, p. 322). Elder Franklin D. Richards related the sacrifices of the Saints in building the temple to the blessings that followed:“The Saints did all the work they could on the building,and then went out and obtained work here and there,and with the money they earned they purchased those things that were necessary for its completion. It was done by sacrificing all that they had; and when we had done all that we could do, Oh! how joyous it was to know the Lord accepted the work, when He stood upon the breastwork of the Temple, conversed with the Prophet Joseph and Oliver, and revealed to them their duties, and informed them that the Gospel should go from there and be preached throughout the nations of the earth.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 17.)’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

 

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 12: “The Gathering of My People”

1. The Lord is gathering His people.

See Encyclopaedia of Mormonism: ‘Gathering’

D&C 45:71 The righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations

‘This revelation was given March 7, 1831. The Church was not then a year old, and but very few had accepted the faith; but the Lord revealed through His servant, the Prophet Joseph, the glory that should come unto Zion, and He told him that the people of Zion should be gathered from every nation. Think of this young man called to lead the Church, then but twenty-five years of age, given this promise that there should be established a Zion to which the people should gather out of all nations! What likelihood was there for him to imagine this himself, when he looked at the small flock around him that believed in his words? But it was not his imaginings; it was the revelation of God unto him that there should be established a Zion to which people should come from out of all nations. It was the fulfillment of the prophecies in the second chapter of Isaiah, and fourth chapter of Micah, in language similarly worded, when they looked down through the vista of time and saw there was to be a gathering, and that the people would go up to the “mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,” in order that they might learn of His ways and walk in His paths. Isaiah prophesied to this effect, and we bear testimony it is coming to pass.’ (Anton H Lund, Conference Report, April 1908, First Day-Morning Session. 11.)

D&C 29:8 They shall be gathered into one place

“The spirit of gathering has been with the Church from the days of that restoration. Those who are of the blood of Israel, have a righteous desire after they are baptized, to gather together with the body of the Saints at the designated place. …

“… The Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well—before the frightening events concerning the fulfilment of all God’s promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1948, p. 55.)

D&C 110:11 Keys of the gathering of Israel

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‘Moses, who in the majesty of the Melchizedek Priesthood led enslaved Israel out of Egyptian bondage into their promised Palestine, brings back those very keys….

These keys empower those who hold them to lead all Israel, the ten tribes included, from all the nations of the earth … to the mountains of the Lord’s houses, there to be endowed with power from on high.’ (Bruce R McConkie, “The Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign May, 1983, p. 21-23)

2. The Saints gathered in Ohio.

D&C 37:3 Assemble together at the Ohio

‘Oliver Cowdery had been on a mission to the Lamanites since 15 October 1830 (see D&C 30:5–6; 32:2). This mission took him and his companions on a fourteen-hundred-mile journey through New York and Ohio to Missouri. The Saints were commanded to move to Ohio in preparation to receive further instructions concerning the establishment of Zion after Oliver Cowdery’s return from “the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9).’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 38:32 For this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio

As early as January, 1831, at Fayette, New York, looking forward to the erection of a temple unto the Most High in Ohio, and of ordinances to be performed therein, this revealed statement from the Lord concerning the endowment was given to Joseph Smith: “for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law (D&C 42); and there you shall be endowed with power from on high.”  ‘

At Kirtland, Ohio, in December of the following year, the Lord gave the commandment to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his followers to “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, (temple) even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119) One of the purposes for the erection of a temple at Kirtland, Ohio, the first in this present dispensation of the gospel, was to bless the faithful saints with the sacred ordinance of the endowment. While the temple was in process of erection, the Lord again refers to the blessing of the endowment: “But inasmuch as there are those who have hearkened unto my words, I have prepared a blessing and an endowment for them, if they continue faithful.” (D&C 105:18)’ (Alvin R. Dyer, Who Am I?, p.376 – 377)

D&C 39:15 I have kept in store a blessing

‘The Lord told us, when we were living in the State of New York, to go to the Ohio; there to build a Temple to the name of the Most High. And there the Lord condescended to bestow upon his servants and people a great endowment, (D&C 38:32) a blessing such as was not known among the children of men.( D&C 39:15) And from thence they should go the nations of the earth and publish these things. (D&C 38:33 D&C 110:7-10) We went to the Ohio; and after we had been sufficiently taught and instructed, the Lord commanded us through Joseph, to build a Temple, (D&C 88:119-136) giving the pattern thereof, and the size thereof, the size of the inner and outer courts, the size of the several rooms and apartments, and the form of the pulpits and everything pertaining to it, was given by the inspiration of the Almighty that rested upon Joseph, and upon those associated with him. (D&C 95:1-17) When the Temple was built, the Lord did not see proper to reveal all the ordinances of the Endowments, such as we now understand. He revealed little by little. No rooms were prepared for washings; no special place prepared for the anointings, such as you understand, and such as you comprehend at the period of the history of the Church! Neither did we know the necessity of the washings, such as we now receive. It is true, our hands were washed, our faces and our feet. The Prophet Joseph was commanded to gird himself with a towel, doing this in the Temple. (John 13:1-17 D&C 88:140-141) What for? That the first Elder might witness to our Father and God, that we were clean from the blood of that wicked generation, (D&C 88:138-139) that then lived. We had gone forth according to our best ability, to publish glad tidings of great joy, for thousands of miles, upon this continent. After this we were called in, and this washing of hands and feet was to testify to God that we were clean from the blood of this generation. (D&C 88:138-139) The holy anointing was placed upon the heads of his servants, but not the full development of the Endowments in the anointing. (D&C 132:41) These administrations in the Kirtland Temple were revealed, little by little, corresponding with what I have already been saying, that the Lord does not give the fullness at once, but imparts to us according to his own will and pleasure. Great were the blessings received. We were commanded to seek to behold the face of the Lord; (Ps. 24:6 1 Chr. 16:11 D&C 101:38) to seek after revelation; (D&C 42:61) to seek after the spirit of prophecy, (Num. 11:29 1 Cor. 14:39) and the gifts of the Spirit; (D&C 46:8) and many testify to what they saw.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

D&C 95:8 Power from on high

‘An endowment is a gift or a bequest. In the Church it usually refers to a temple ordinance in which members make certain promises and receive a gift of knowledge and spiritual power in return. The endowment spoken of here, however, is not the same as the ceremony administered in later temples. Priesthood members in Kirtland did participate in a “partial endowment,

the full ordinance being reserved for a future performance when a temple designed for ordinance work itself should be built” (Bruce R. McConkie, “A New Commandment: Save Thyself and Thy Kindred!” Ensign, Aug. 1976, p. 10). The first complete endowment in this dispensation was given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo on 4 May 1842.

The endowment received in Kirtland included washings and anointings, as well as the washing of feet for official priesthood brethren. The Lord also poured out His Spirit, or in other words endowed them with spiritual power, and many received revelations or other gifts (see History of the Church, 2:308–10).'(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

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D&C 38:27 Be one

‘Satan would segregate Father’s children into groups with strongly held individual interests. He would encourage a tenacious preservation of those interests regardless of the consequences to others. Father’s plan is expressed in His Son’s words, “Behold, … I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).’ (Richard G Scott, “Removing Barriers to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1998, 86)

D&C 38:39 Pride and riches

“There is something in the human heart of that character that when human beings are prospering they are apt to be lifted up in pride and to forget the cause or the source of their prosperity; they are apt to forget God, who is the fountain of all their blessings, and to give glory to themselves. It requires a constant preaching of the word of God, a constant pleading with the people, a constant outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the people to bring them to a true sense of their real condition. … Is it right that we should be prudent, that we should take care of those gifts and blessings which God has given unto us, that we should husband our resources, that we should be economical, and not extravagant? Certainly; this is right, this is proper, we should be culpable if we were not so. But with this there is also something else required, and that is, to keep constantly in view that the management and care of these things is not the object that God had in sending us here, that is not the object of our probation. … I have been in reduced circumstances; been on missions when I did not know where to get a mouthful to eat; turned away by the people who dare not entertain me because of the anger that was kindled against us. I could stand by and weep, being a boy and away from all my friends. But I, nevertheless, was happy. I never enjoyed myself in my life as I did then. I know that happiness does not consist in the possession of worldly things. Still it is a great relief when people can have the means necessary for the support of themselves and families. If they possess these things and the Spirit of God with them, they are blessed.” (George Q Cannon, In Journal of Discourses, 22:100–101.)

3. The Saints gathered in Missouri.

D&C 57:1-3 Independence

“Independence was then a raw frontier settlement, the final ‘civilized’ stop for Santa Fe traders. One of the elders in Joseph Smith’s party described the village as ‘a new town containing a court-house built of brick, two or three merchants’ stores and 15 or 20 dwelling houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides.’ Both residents and visitors praised the country’s astonishing beauty and productivity. The famous writer Washington Irving passed through Independence the next year and wrote, ‘The soil is like that of a garden [and the] beauty of the forest exceeded anything that I have seen.’

“For the Latter-day Saints, however, both Jackson County’s newness and its fertility were secondary to its sacredness; for in July, the Lord spoke to the Prophet: ‘Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the court-house’ (D&C 57:3)…

“‘Gathering to Zion’ immediately became a topic for Church leaders and missionaries. W. W. Phelps gave the [Evening and Morning Star] a strong ‘last days’ emphasis with articles in every issue about the new revelations, Enoch’s Zion, the Second Coming, or disasters that would befall a wicked world.

“But more than a refuge against calamity, Zion was to become headquarters for the millennial government of Christ, wrote Phelps… Thus, the Saints gathering in Jackson County could rightfully feel the worth of their labors and the immense importance of that location.” (Max H Parkin, “Missouri’s Impact on the Church,” Ensign, Apr. 1979, 59)

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D&C 28:9 Zion

‘The Church had its beginning in New York. Persecution came upon the Saints from the beginning, and they were driven out. The Lord gave them a commandment to assemble in Ohio  D&C 37:3 They established their headquarters at Kirtland in that state. No doubt they had no intention of leaving, when they first went there, but the Lord revealed to them that there was another place, the place which he called “Zion,” on the borders of the Lamanites  D&C 28:9 and so their hearts were turned to that place; however, they never had intended to forsake altogether their headquarters in Kirtland, but persecution came upon them, and they were forced out. With rejoicing they assembled in large measure in Jackson County where it had been made known to them that the great city, the new Jerusalem or Zion would be built  D&C 101:70-71 and they rejoiced over it, but they were not privileged to remain there. Their enemies came upon them with hatred and bitterness in their hearts and drove them out. They moved to another part of the state of Missouri and there again intended and tried to establish themselves, but persecution still followed them, and the hatred of the officials in that state resulted in their banishment and an edict coming from the governor of that state that they would have to leave or be exterminated. They went back eastward, crossed the great river, and made their settlement at Nauvoo, in the state of Illinois. For a season they prospered but not without persecution, not without hatred, and finally that hatred reached its peak, and their prophet and his brother, my grandfather, were martyred. Their enemies thought that would be the end of the Church. The papers so declared it. Their enemies rejoiced, but it did not bring the end. Still the Church grew. So also grew the animosity and the hatred of their enemies, and finally the Saints were driven from their homes, robbed of practically all that they possessed and thus set upon their journey to this western land, destitute, in poverty, and the world said they had gone to their destruction, and rejoiced.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, April 1947)

D&C 30:5-6 Take your journey with your brother Oliver

“Oliver (D&C 28), Peter Whitmer, Jr. (D&C 30), and then Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson (D&C 32) were called in October 1830 to go to Missouri as special missionaries to the Lamanite nations.

“Their knapsacks and satchels loaded with copies of the Book of Mormon, the quartet headed west. After a stop at the Cattaragus Indian reservation in western New York, they made a second proselyting stop at the door of Parley’s former pastor, Reverend Sidney Rigdon, at Mentor, Ohio. Sidney listened, let them preach to his congregation, and two weeks later became a Latter-day Saint. His conversion was considered the most effective advertising received by the Church since its inception; and it triggered a chain reaction which resulted in 130 baptisms before the missionaries departed, and hundreds of others later as the new Ohio converts themselves turned into missionaries. (Porter, “A Study of the Origins of the Church,” p. 281-84; Journal History, Oct. 1830.) On the Missouri frontier, however, government agents refused to allow Indian tribes to listen to the missionaries.

“While the Lamanite missionaries worked in the west, new converts Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge traveled east in December, met Joseph Smith, and added their labors to the New York missionary work. Sidney, probably the most culturally eloquent speaker the young Church had, drew crowds in many important towns before he and Joseph journeyed to Kirtland in January.

“Because of the work of these first missionaries, and others whom records do not identify, the six-month-old Church by December 1830 had about 190 members in New York and hundreds more in the Kirtland area. The white field was being harvested, and the Church stepped unhesitatingly into the role it has never since relinquished, that of a missionary Church committed to preaching the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people.” (William G. Hartley, “Every Member WAS a Missionary,” Ensign, Sept. 1978, 24)

D&C 32:1 Be meek and lowly of heart

“Parley P. Pratt was admonished to be meek and lowly of heart. In the year 1837, there were ‘jarrings and discord’ in the Church at Kirtland, and he was overcome with that spirit. He even tried to turn John Taylor from the Prophet by pointing out to him what he regarded as Joseph’s error. Elder Taylor rebuked him as a brother, and Parley P. Pratt went to the Prophet in tears and confessed his sin, whereupon the Prophet frankly forgave him, prayed with him, and blessed him. This was meekness. It was also manliness. Only a really strong character can possess true humility.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, pp. 170–71.)

D&C 52:2-5 Journey to the land of Missouri

“In the same revelation, twenty-six other elders were called to start on missions to the West. They were to travel by twos, preaching the gospel on the way. All were to meet at Independence, Missouri, where the Lord would reveal the location of the New Zion.

“The idea that there would be a New Zion upon the earth in the latter days may be obtained from a reading of the Bible. It was not the study of ancient prophecies, however, which so fired the Saints with a zeal for Zion. To them God had spoken anew. Zion was to be realized.” (William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, 7th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1953], 118.)

D&C 54:8 Unto the land of Missouri

“Revelation given through the Prophet Joseph to Newel Knight sent them ‘westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.’ (D&C 54:8) They arrived in Independence on 25 July 1831 and helped the Prophet ‘lay the first log as a foundation for Zion in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence,’ on 2 August 1831. Newel notes that the first log ‘was carried by twelve men in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel.’ At least five of those twelve were Colesville Saints and members of the Knight family: Joseph Knight, Sr., Aaron Culver, Hezekiah Peck, Ezekial Peck, and Freeborn DeMill. Newel Knight stood with a small group clustered around the Prophet the next day when he dedicated the temple site in Independence.

“Mother Knight had been seriously ill on her journey to Jackson County, but refused to give in to her sickness, even though Newel, deeply concerned, bought lumber to have on hand for her coffin while they travelled. But ‘her greatest desire,’ he says, ‘was to set her feet upon the land of Zion and to have her body intered in that land. … The Lord gave her the desire of her heart.’

“She was the first Latter-day Saint to die in Missouri, and the Prophet preached her funeral sermon on August 7. Father Knight’s record contains a poignant notation: ‘She was Burried in the woods a Spot Chosen out By our selves. I was along By where she was Buried a few Days after and I found the hogs had Began to root where She was Buried. I Being verry unwell But I took my ax the next Day and went and Bilt a pen round it. It was the Last I done for her.’

“She was the first to die but not the last. Her daughter Esther soon followed her, then their uncle Aaron Culver, leaving his wife, Esther, in Newel’s care. Newel’s record shows no complaint. He simply says that the frontier life was ‘new and strange … yet we took hold with cheerful hearts, and a determination to do our best.’ Conferences with the Prophet Joseph left them feeling ‘renewed in spirit.'” (Larry Porter, “The Joseph Knight Family,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 43)

4. The Saints now gather to the stakes of Zion in their own lands.

D&C 115:6 A refuge from the storm

‘The Lord will stand by His Church and people and keep them in safety until His coming. There will be peace in Zion and in her stakes, for He has proclaimed “that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth”  (D&C 115:6) (Bruce D Porter, General Conference, April 2013)

The Church stands as a bulwark of safety for its members. Though conditions in the world may become very vexing at times, faithful Latter-day Saints will find sanctuary in the stakes of Zion. The Lord has decreed that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth until it has filled the whole earth (see  Daniel 2:31–45  D&C 65:2 And no human power can stay its course, for God is the author of this work and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone.

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, LDS Church History

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 9: “The Only True and Living Church”

1. The Church is organized in the latter days.

D&C 20:1 Being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years

“Does this give the exact year of Christ’s birth? That calculation places too much weight on what may have been an elaborate phrase of dating or an incidental statement. The first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Hyrum M. Smith) cautioned against using this to prove that Christ was born at the exact beginning of the Christian Era; so have Bible scholars J. Reuben Clark and Bruce R. McConkie. Part of the problem is that Christ was alive at the death of Herod the Great, an event of 4 B.C. in careful chronologies.” (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 114 – 115.)

D&C 21:3 6th April 1830

See The Sixth Day of April 1830 by Howard W Hunter

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D&C 20:9 The fulness of the gospel

“Our revelations say that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel. (D. & C. 20:9; 27:5; 42:12; 135:3.) This is true in the sense that the Book of Mormon is a record of God’s dealings with a people who had the fulness of the gospel, and therefore the laws and principles leading to the highest salvation are found recorded in that book.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine)

What changes have been made in the name of the Church? Its full designation does not appear in the revelations until 1838. (D&C 115:4)

Richard Lloyd Anderson, professor of religion and history, Brigham Young University A concise answer to this question is found by comparing the name of the Church on the title pages of the first three printings of the revelations: ‘The Church of Christ’ (Book of Commandments, 1833), ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints’ (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835), and ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ (Doctrine and Covenants, 1844).

“The Savior told the Nephites that his church should be called in his name. (See 3 Ne. 27:8.) As a result, the restored Church’s official title from 1830 to 1834 was ‘The Church of Christ.’ That title is found in the revelation on the organization and government of the Church (D&C 20:1) and in early minute books. During this period, however, members of the Church regularly called themselves ‘saints’; the word saint is used approximately three dozen times in the D&C before 1834.

“On 3 May 1834, official action modified the name of the Church. In a priesthood conference presided over by Joseph Smith, a motion passed ‘by unanimous voice’ that the Church be known as ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints.’ (See The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 2:160.) This alteration was not seen as a de-emphasis of Christ; on the contrary, it was done in hopes that the name of the Church would more clearly reflect the fact that Christ was at its head.

“In the same issue of the Kirtland newspaper in which the announcement appeared, an editorial explained that the change stemmed from a misleading nickname: the ‘Mormonite’ church. The new name also had these advantages: (1) Since American Christians, including Congregationalists and reformers, frequently designated themselves as ‘The Church of Christ,’ that title did not distinguish the restored gospel from a host of Protestant sects. (2) Since Paul and Peter used the Greek word saint (‘a holy person’) to refer to believers in Christ, the term Latter-day Saints implied that Church members were modern followers of Christ. Thus it also asserted the claim of restoration.

“Just as the term saint flourished when the official name was ‘The Church of Christ,’ the name of Christ regularly supplemented the official name of ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints.’ For example, in 1835, the church was referred to as ‘the church of Christ’ and the Twelve apostles were commissioned as ‘special witnesses of the name of Christ.’ (D&C 107:59, 23) The Saints certainly did not feel that the Church was leaving out the name of Christ.

“Sometimes during this period the first and second titles would be combined-‘the church of Christ of Latter Day saints’-as they were in priesthood minutes (Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1836, 2:266) and in the publication of the first high council minutes (see headnote, D&C 5, 1835 edition).

“A vivid illustration of the way members then understood the official name of the Church is found in a letter from John Smith, the Prophet’s uncle, to his son Elias before the latter was converted. Writing 19 Oct. 1834, Uncle John answers the question of why the name could be changed:

‘The Church of Christ is the Church of Saints and always was. This is the reason why the apostle directed letters sometimes to the Church of God, others to the Church, and again to the Brethren, sometimes to the Saints, always meaning the Church of Christ.’ (Archives, University of Utah)

“Thus, the final version of the Church’s name was no radical shift from the previous practice of using both ‘Christ’ and ‘Saints’ in designating the restored Church and its members. Revealed on 26 April 1838 (D&C 115:4), the full title, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ is striking by comparison to the names of the scores of churches that obscure their Christianity under the label  of their founders or of some characteristic belief or aspect of church organization. It is a highly effective name, for while it is distinctive, it indicates that Jesus is at its head. It is also descriptive of divine restoration. And it is more than a name-it is a public commitment to a holy life through the Savior’s power.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 13-4)

2. The Lord commands Church members to follow the prophet.

D&C 1:38 Or by the voice of my servants

‘I do not believe members of this Church can be in full harmony with the Savior without sustaining His living prophet on the earth, the President of the Church. If we do not sustain the living prophet, whoever he may be, we die spiritually. Ironically, some have died spiritually by exclusively following prophets who have long been dead. Others equivocate in their support of living prophets, trying to lift themselves up by putting down the living prophets, however subtly.

In our lifetime we have been favored with ongoing communication from the heavens, which have been open to the prophets of our time…This process of revelation comes to the Church very frequently. President Wilford Woodruff stated, “This power is in the bosom of Almighty God, and he imparts it to his servants the prophets as they stand in need of it day by day to build up Zion” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 56). This is necessary for the Church to fulfill its mission. Without it, we would fail.’ (James E Faust, “Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 5)

D&C 21:4-5 Give heed unto all his words and commandments

‘Brigham Young was a great defender of the Prophet Joseph Smith. There were Judases in the ranks in that day, just as there were in the Savior’s day, and just as we have today, some who are members of the Church who are undercutting us, who are betraying their trusts. We are shocked when we see the places from which some of these things come.

Brigham Young was invited by some of these men who were trying to depose the Prophet Joseph from his position as President of the Church; but they made a mistake by inviting President Brigham Young into their circle. And after he had listened to what their motives were, he said something to this effect: “I want to say something to you men. You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God, and sink yourselves to hell.”‘ (Harold B Lee, “Admonitions for the Priesthood of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 107)

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D&C 21:6 The gates of Hell

“The gates of hell are the entrances to the benighted realms of the damned where the wicked go to await the day when they shall come forth in the resurrection of damnation. Those beckoning gates prevail against all who pass through them. But those who obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel have the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:388–89.)

D&C 21:9 Believe on his words

‘We must learn the will of our Father in Heaven by earnest study. Next, we must act upon it. Study alone is not sufficient; we must act upon the words of revelation before we know of a surety of the truthfulness of the doctrines. On the day the Church was organized in 1830, the Lord gave a wonderful promise to those who labor in the vineyard:

“For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his [Joseph Smith’s] words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart.”

If we will follow, with diligence, the counsel and instruction that is the united voice of these Brethren, we will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether they speak of themselves.’ (L. Aldin Porter, “The Revelations of Heaven,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 64-5)

3. The Lord encourages Church members to meet together often to partake of the sacrament.

D&C 20:75 The sacrament

‘Usually once a week, for a little more than an hour, we have the opportunity to attend sacrament meeting and reflect on the life of our Savior; to recall with deep gratitude and reverence His life of purity, kindness, and love; to reflect upon the great atoning sacrifice; and to partake of the broken bread, symbolic of His torn flesh, and drink of the cup, symbolic of His blood that was shed on the cross.

The Savior taught the Nephites that ‘I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

‘And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … that I might draw all men unto me.’ (3 Ne. 27:13-14.)

As we partake of the sacrament and reflect upon His sacrifice for each of us, we make a solemn commitment to keep the commandments which He has given us, that by so doing we might always have His spirit to be with us. By partaking of the sacrament each Sunday we receive the encouragement and strength to keep the commandments of God, to live uprightly, virtuously, and honestly. Did not Jesus Himself sum them all up as follows: ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’ (Luke 10:27.)

This is what every person who partakes of the sacrament is committed to do. Living God’s commandments obligates a person to a life of goodness-goodness to society and a genuine helpfulness to humanity, and excluding from one’s life hatred, enmity, immorality, selfishness, drunkenness, jealousy, and dishonesty.

May we experience the joy of regular attendance at sacrament meeting and feel the blessings of eternal progression in our personal lives through wholehearted compliance, in spirit and actions, with the sacred words of the sacrament.’ (David B Haight, “The Sacrament,” Ensign, May 1983, 14)

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D&C 20:77,79 The sacrament prayers

‘Because of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restored gospel, another blessing we can count is that we have the opportunity to take the sacrament each week—prepared, blessed, and passed by authorized servants of God. We can be grateful when the Holy Spirit confirms to us that the words of the sacrament prayers, offered by those authorized priesthood holders, are honored by our Heavenly Father.

Of all the blessings we can count, the greatest by far is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as we partake of the sacrament. We will feel greater love and appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite sacrifice made possible our being cleansed from sin. As we partake of the bread and water, we remember that He suffered for us. And when we feel gratitude for what He has done for us, we will feel His love for us and our love for Him.

The blessing of love we receive will make it easier for us to keep the commandment to “always remember him.”  Moroni 4:3 5:2  Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79 You may even feel love and gratitude, as I do, for the Holy Ghost, who Heavenly Father has promised will always be with us as we remain faithful to the covenants we have made. We can count all those blessings every Sunday and feel grateful.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, October 2016)

D&C 27:2 Always remember him

My brothers and sisters, I solemnly witness to you that these doctrines and principles are true. In view of these truths, I plead with all members of the Church, young and old, to attend sacrament meeting each Sabbath day and to partake of the sacrament with the repentant attitude described as “a broken heart and a contrite spirit”  (3 Ne. 9:20) I pray that we will do so with the reverence and worship of our Savior that will signify a serious covenant to “always remember him” ( D&C 20:77) The Savior himself has said that we should partake “with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins”  (D&C 27:2)

4. The Lord explains the duties of Church members.

D&C 28:68-69 A godly walk and conversation

“The call to discipleship is a call to a higher righteousness. The Saints are asked to put off the natural man, put away the toys of a telestial world, and grow up in the Lord. They are summoned to be obedient, to keep the commandments, to manifest ‘by a godly walk and conversation that they are worthy’ of membership in the Church and kingdom of God (D&C 20:69). They covenant to take upon them the sacred name of Jesus Christ, to bear the same with fidelity and devotion, and to behave as becomes Christians. In short, they covenant before God and man to see to it that their actions evidence their Christian commitment. Disciples are expected to have clean hands.” (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 55.)

 

Posted in Faith, LDS Church History, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 4: The Pioneer Heritage of Faith and Sacrifice

“Whether you have pioneer ancestry or came into the Church only yesterday, you are a part of this whole grand picture of which those men and women dreamed. … They laid the foundation. Ours is the duty to build on it.”
As the Church becomes an increasingly global organisation and overflows its Rocky Mountain home, an increasing proportion of its members will not have ancestors who crossed the plains or founded small communities in the desert. Many, however, will be gospel pioneers in their families, schools, work places and communities. We may not all have great ancestors, but we can all become great ancestors.

From the life of Gordon B Hinckley

President Hinckley speaks about his pioneering ancestors and then honours those who are gospel pioneers around the world today.

1 With vision, labor, and confidence in the power of God working through them, the early Latter-day Saint pioneers brought their faith to reality.

From the manual:
Behind us is a glorious history. It is bespangled with heroism, tenacity to principle, and unflagging fidelity. It is the product of faith. Before us is a great future. It begins today. We cannot pause. We cannot slow down. We cannot slacken our pace or shorten our stride.
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How do you feel when you consider the legacy of faith and sacrifice that pioneers and other Saints have given us?
Who are the pioneers of the Church in your area? (See my blog Saints ain’ts and complaints for some of the pioneers in my area of the church.)
How can we pass on this same kind of legacy to those who will follow us?
2 Early Latter-day Saint pioneers looked to the future with a grand dream of Zion.
From the manual:
I stood the other day on the old docks of Liverpool, England. There was practically no activity the Friday morning when we were there. But once this was a veritable beehive. During the 1800s, tens of thousands of our people walked over the same stone paving on which we walked. They came from across the British Isles and from the lands of Europe, converts to the Church. They came with testimony on their lips and faith in their hearts. Was it difficult to leave their homes and step into the unknown of a new world? Of course it was. But they did it with optimism and enthusiasm. They boarded sailing vessels. They knew the crossing at best was hazardous. They soon found out that for the most part it was miserable. They lived in cramped quarters week after week. They endured storms, disease, sickness. Many died on the way and were buried at sea. It was an arduous and fearsome journey. They had doubts, yes. But their faith rose above those doubts. Their optimism rose above their fears. They had their dream of Zion, and they were on their way to fulfill it.
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What dream or vision drives you forward and helps you to endure the difficult times?
The LDS hymn ‘Come, Come Ye Saints was written by English pioneer William Clayton on the plains of Iowa while concerned about his family back in Nauvoo. See: William Clayton and Come, Come Ye Saints in the Friend magazine.
‘Life isn’t always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa—up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage. Always, there is a Devil’s Gate, which will swing wide open to lure us in. Those who are wise and faithful will steer a course as far from such temptation as possible, while others—sometimes those who are nearest and dearest to us—succumb to the attraction of ease, comfort, convenience, and rest. Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing: “All is well! All is well!” (Hymns, no. 30).’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, May 1997)
3 The rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers speaks of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
From the manual:
My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray, that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives.
What can we do to rescue and lift those who are in need today?

“I received a letter this morning. I think I would like to read it to you. I hope that you will not consider it egotistical for me to do so.

“What a wonderful Conference! Your closing remarks concerning Brigham Young’s rescue parties touched our family’s heart and we resolved to set out on our rescue mission without delay. We pulled out of the stake center [Sunday afternoon] and headed directly to the humble home of a struggling single parent mother of two who hasn’t been out to Church in years (and who has carefully evaded her visiting teachers). We happened to catch her in her driveway, and we told her that you and the bishop had sent us. Her heart was touched. She said that she works at a hospital till 2 A.M. most Sundays. When we asked if we could bring her children to Church with us, she explained that her ten-year-old daughter has no Sunday clothes and that her fourteen-year-old son had felt embarrassed to attend because he felt he didn’t fit in. We told the mom we would take care of the needed clothes. We then invited them to Sunday spaghetti dinner that took place thirty minutes later, introduced the boy to our nephew who is in his quorum, and arranged to pick the boy up for Mutual this week. The mom and sister promised to go to Church with us in two weeks when the mom has her Sunday off. (Don’t worry, we won’t let them forget!)’

“That is the whole thing, when all is said and done, to go out and get in our cars and drive from a Church parking lot to someone who has been neglected for a long time and needs a little attention, to lift and cheer and comfort and love and bless. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Matt. 25:40).” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 224.)

4 Each of us is a pioneer.
From the manual:
It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. Their tremendous example can become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family, and many of us pioneer daily in trying to establish a gospel foothold in distant parts of the world.
In what ways is each of us a pioneer?
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In a sense, each of us is a wanderer far from home, crossing a  wilderness in search of a promised land. This theme is repeated in the stories of the Jaredites, the family of Lehi, the children of Israel and Brigham Young and the pioneers. To get to our promised land we will each of us have to make sacrifices just as the pioneers did.
5 We honor the sacrifices and heritage of the pioneers by following their example and building on their foundation.
From the manual:
With so great an inheritance, we must go forward. We must never let down. We must hold our heads high. We must walk with integrity. We must “do what is right [and] let the consequence follow”
How can the examples of the early pioneers help us as we face challenges?

‘A major reason this church has grown from its humble beginnings to its current strength is the faithfulness and devotion of millions of humble and devoted [members]… He encourages us to “be not weary in well-doing, for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” May we be faithful in fulfilling the duties of whatever calling we have in the kingdom. Let us pay heed to the “small things” that make all the difference. Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments as we have made sacred covenants to do. As our heritage and our growth clearly show, we are, indeed, “laying the foundation of a great work.”

Let us dedicate ourselves to doing the Lord’s work to the best of our abilities. May we honor the faith of our fathers by giving our own faithful service to this great cause.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Faith of Our Fathers,” Ensign, May 1996, 34)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 8: The Restoration of the Priesthood

1. Definition and purpose of the priesthood

D&C 107:8-12 Right to officiate

‘This high priesthood, we are told, has held the right of presidency in all ages of the world. But there is a difference between the general powers of the priesthood, and the particular office and calling to which men are set apart; and you, when I tell you, will understand it very easily; for instance, the presidency of the priesthood, or the presidency of the church, are high priests. The Twelve are high priests. The presidents of stakes and their counselors, the high council of a stake, and of all the stakes, are high priests. The bishops are ordained and set apart through the high priesthood, and stand in the same capacity; and thus bishops and their counselors are high priests. Now, these things you all know. There is nothing mysterious about them.

ALL PRIESTHOOD FUNCTIONS UNDER DIRECTION IN CHURCH CAPACITY.-There is another question associated with this matter. Because a man is a high priest, is he an apostle? No. Because a man is a high priest, is he the president of a stake, or the counselor to the president of a stake? No. Because he is a high priest, is he a bishop? No, not by any means. And so on, in all the various offices. The high priesthood holds the authority to administer in those ordinances, offices, and places, when they are appointed by the proper authorities, and at no other time; and while they are sustained also by the people… It is not because a man holds a certain class of priesthood that he is to administer in all the offices of that priesthood. He administers in them only as he is called and set apart for that purpose.’ (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 202.)

2. The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

D&C 13 Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

‘What a glorious day it was for Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in May 1829 when they went into the woods to pray about the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins that they had read about while translating the Book of Mormon. There were many teachings about baptism being taught by different churches in the early 1800s, and Joseph and Oliver knew they could not all be true. They wanted to know about the correct manner of baptism and also who had the authority to baptize.

In answer to their petitions to the Lord, a messenger from heaven, John the Baptist, appeared to them. He placed his hands on their heads and conferred upon them the authority to baptize with these words: “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron”  D&C 13:1

What a marvelous day in the history of the world! The priesthood was restored to the earth.

When we receive the priesthood, we receive the authority to act in the name of God and lead in ways of truth and righteousness. This authority is a vital source of righteous power and influence for the benefit of God’s children on earth and will last beyond the veil. It was necessary for the priesthood to be restored before the true Church of Jesus Christ could be organized.’ (L Tom Perry, General Conference, October 2013)

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D&C 84:26-27 The children of Israel

‘If they had been sanctified and holy, the children of Israel would not have traveled one year with Moses before they would have received their endowments and the Melchizedek Priesthood. But they could not receive them, and never did. Moses left them, and they did not receive the fullness of that Priesthood…. The Lord told Moses that he would show himself to the people; but they begged Moses to plead with the Lord not to do so.’ (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6:100; Address delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, by Pres. Brigham Young; November 29, 1857)

D&C 107:14 The lesser priesthood

‘The fact that it is called the lesser priesthood does not diminish at all the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood. The Lord said it is necessary to the Melchizedek Priesthood. (See D&C 84:29.) Any holder of the higher priesthood should feel greatly honored to perform the ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood, for they have great spiritual importance.

I have, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, passed the sacrament. I assure you I have felt honored and humbled beyond expression to do what some might consider a routine task.’  (Boyd K Packer, “The Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov 1981, 30)

3. The restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood

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D&C 27:12-13 Priesthood keys

‘One of the remarkable evidences of the Restoration is the testimony of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery regarding the manner in which the priesthood and its directing powers were returned to earth. In each case, priesthood and priesthood keys were restored by divine messengers who had held them in earlier times. John the Baptist brought back the Aaronic Priesthood with the keys of repentance and baptism.See D&C 13  JS—H 1:68–72 Peter, James, and John restored not only the Melchizedek Priesthood but also “the keys of [the] kingdom.”See  D&C 27:12–13Moses and Elijah returned with the “gathering” and “sealing” keys.See  D&C 110:11–16 The events describing the return of the priesthood are remarkable in that they conform precisely with the biblical pattern of priesthood restoration in earlier dispensations. For example, consider the restoration and transfer of priesthood powers during the Savior’s time.

Near the end of His ministry, Jesus promised Peter “the keys of the kingdom,”See  Matt. 16:19 knowing that Jesus would soon leave and that priesthood keys were needed by the Apostles if they were to direct the work after His ascension. In order for them to receive the keys, Matthew records that Jesus took “Peter, James, and John … up into an high mountain” where He “was transfigured before them” and Moses and Elias “appeared unto them.”  Matt. 17:1–3 Shortly after this event, the Savior declared that the Apostles now had the keys to direct the ministry.  Matt. 18:18  D&C 7:7 The Prophet Joseph Smith states that “the Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him.” [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 158.]

The pattern of priesthood restoration described by Matthew is the same pattern followed in our dispensation. Apostles and prophets designated by the Lord to hold keys in earlier dispensations returned them to earth as this dispensation began.’ (Merrill J Bateman, General Conference, October 2003)

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D&C 84:19-22 The power of godliness

Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, “the power of godliness” (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. Our participation in those ordinances also demonstrates that we are prepared to accept the additional responsibility that comes with added light and spiritual power.

In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This “power of godliness” comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is part of the new and everlasting covenant. It is an essential part of our baptism, the baptism of the Spirit. It is the messenger of grace by which the blood of Christ is applied to take away our sins and sanctify us (see 2 Nephi 31:17). (D Todd Christofferson, Ensign, May 2009)

D&C 110:11-16 Elias

‘After Moses, came Elias. We know not who he was in mortality. There were many prophets who bore that name and title. One was Noah. Apparently this Elias lived in the day of Abraham, and may even have been Abraham himself. In any event he “committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” (D&C 110:12)—not, be it noted, the gospel of Christ, for that had already been received, but the gospel of Abraham, meaning the great commission which God gave Abraham in his day. That commission dealt with families, those of Abraham and his seed, who were and are promised continuance “in the world and out of the world … as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them” (D&C 132:30).’ (Bruce R McConkie, “This Final Glorious Gospel Dispensation,” Ensign, Apr. 1980, 22–23)

D&C 107:18 The keys of all spiritual blessings

“Priesthood is given us for two purposes, first, that we may ourselves receive exaltation, and, second, that we may be the means of helping others to obtain like blessings” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection [1932], 221–22).

Posted in Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine

Joseph Smith the Prophet

Joseph Smith was born on 23 December 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. To celebrate his birthday here are a selection of his teachings.

Love

A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. (History of the Church, 4:227.)

It is a duty which every Saint ought to render to his brethren freely—to always love them, and ever succor them. (History of the Church, 2:229)

Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (History of the Church, 5:23–24 (9 June 1842))

The First Vision

The Lord does reveal himself to me. I know it. He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. . . . I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, ‘O Lord, what Church shall I join?’ Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious Personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first personage said [of] the second, “Behold this is my beloved Son, hear him.” (Interview by David Nye White, Aug. 1843, published in “The Prairies, Nauvoo, Joe Smith, the Temple, the Mormons, etc.,” The Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, Sept. 15, 1843)

Acceptance

I will try to be contented with my lot, knowing that God is my friend. In him I shall find comfort. I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will. (Joseph Smith letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832)

I was grieved to hear that Hiram [Hyrum Smith] had lost his little Child I think we Can in Some degree simpathise with him but we all must be reconciled to our lots and Say the will of the Lord be done. (Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832)

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Missionary work

Do not be discouraged on account of the greatness of the work; only be humble and faithful. . . . He who scattered Israel has promised to gather them; therefore inasmuch as you are to be instrumental in this great work, He will endow you with power, wisdom, might, and intelligence, and every qualification necessary. (History of the Church, 4:128–29.)

Knowledge 

We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 316 (23 July 1843))

A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 137 (25 March 1839))

Faith

Great blessings await us at this time, and will soon be poured out upon us, if we are faithful in all things, for we are even entitled to greater spiritual blessings than they [the faithful at the time of Christ] were, because they had Christ in person with them, to instruct them in the great plan of salvation. His personal presence we have not, therefore we have need of greater faith.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 90)

 

Posted in Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 1: The Restoration of the Gospel—The Dawning of a Brighter Day

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

This section tells a story shared by President Hinckley in 2000 about a visit to the Sacred Grove and a spiritual witness he received there about the First Vision.

We can all receive a spiritual witness of the First Vision, just as President Hinckley did, and we don’t have to go to Palmyra!

1 Following the Savior’s death, the Church He had established drifted into apostasy.
President Hinckley quotes prophecies of the apostasy by Isaiah.
Why did the people of the world need the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored?

One by one, the apostles were killed as they went out to preach the gospel in foreign lands. At first, successor apostles were chosen such as Matthias (Acts 1:22), James (Acts 12:7; Galatians 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and Paul (Acts 14:14; Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 9:1).3 

These were called before A.D. 50. But neither scripture nor other historical evidence gives us any indication of the calling of others.

Peter,  Philip, Andrew, Jude, Bartholomew, and Simon were crucified;

  • James the son of Zebedee was beheaded;
  • Matthew was slain by a spear and a battle-axe;
  • James the son of Alphaeus was beaten and stoned by the Jews;
  • Matthias was stoned and then beheaded;
  • Thomas was thrust through with a spear.

While the exact dates of death are not known in many cases, it is believed that with the exception of John, all met their deaths well before the end of the first century.

Eventually there were no authorized priesthood keys upon the earth. Fragments of the original teachings and remnants of the original ordinances remained, but the priesthood, the power that gave the Church its spiritual life and sustenance, was gone. As prophesied the Church dwindled in unbelief and over time the doctrines became corrupt.

The Roman Empire which had first persecuted the Christians later adopted and adapted Christianity. The Emperor Constantine worshipped the Sun God but recognized the growing influence of the new religion of Christianity and saw the political advantage to be gained by adopting Christianity as the state religion.

Important religious questions were settled by Councils rather than by revelation. The simple truths taught by the Saviour were debated and changed. Plain and precious doctrines were removed from the scriptures.

2 The Renaissance and Reformation helped prepare the way for the restoration of the gospel.
From the lesson manual:
‘Somehow, in that long season of darkness, a candle was lighted. The age of Renaissance brought with it a flowering of learning, art, and science. There came a movement of bold and courageous men and women who looked heavenward in acknowledgment of God and His divine Son. We speak of it as the Reformation.’
What are some ways the Lord prepared the way for the restoration of the gospel?
The Reformation not only is a major event in world history but also is generally considered one of the important events leading up to the Restoration. Elder M. Russell Ballard declared, “I believe these reformers were inspired to create a religious climate in which God could restore lost truths and priesthood authority.”

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3 The Restoration was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith.
From the lesson manual:
‘Nothing like it had ever happened before. One is led to wonder why it was so important that both the Father and the Son appear. I think it was because They were ushering in the dispensation of the fulness of times, the last and final dispensation of the gospel, when there would be gathered together in one the elements of all previous dispensations. This was to be the final chapter in the long chronicle of God’s dealing with men and women upon the earth.’
Video of Joseph Smith’s First Vision:
In what ways has your testimony of the First Vision influenced you?

What truths were revealed in the First Vision?

Discuss Elder James E. Faust’s answers to that question:

“1. The existence of God our Father as a personal being, and proof that man was made in the image of God.

“2. That Jesus is a personage, separate and distinct from the Father.

“3. That Jesus Christ is declared by the Father to be his Son.

“4. That Jesus was the conveyor of revelation as taught in the Bible.

“5. The promise of James to ask of God for wisdom was fulfilled.

“6. The reality of an actual being from an unseen world who tried to destroy Joseph Smith.

“7. That there was a falling away from the Church established by Jesus Christ—Joseph was

told not to join any of the sects, for they taught the doctrines of men.

“8. Joseph Smith became a witness for God and his Son, Jesus Christ.” (In Conference Report, Apr.1984, pp. 92–93; or Ensign, May 1984, p. 68.)

4 Priesthood authority and keys were restored.
President Hinckley talks about his priesthood line of authority.
Why is important that Melchizedek Priesthood holders can trace their priesthood authority to Jesus Christ?
5 Through Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed truths that distinguish us from other churches.
  • The Godhead
  • Priesthood authority and Church organisation
  • The family
  • The innocence of little children
  • Salvation for the dead
  • The nature, purpose and potential of God’s children
  • Modern revelation

How have these truths blessed your life?

David W. Bercot, a student of the early Christian authors, wrote a book entitled  Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up::

When I first began studying the early Christian writings, I was surprised by what I read. In fact, after a few days of reading, I put their writings back on the shelf and decided to scrap my research altogether. After analyzing the situation, I realized the problem was that their writings contradicted many of my own theological views. . . . They frequently taught the opposite of what I believed, and they even labeled some of my beliefs as heretical. . . .

If there’s any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it’s the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. …… In fact, we frequently say that persons who don’t hold to this doctrine aren’t really Christians. However the early Christians universally believed that works or obedience play an essential role in our salvation.

Clement of Rome, who was a companion of the apostle Paul, . . . wrote, “A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he really does not believe God.'”

Polycarp, the personal companion of the apostle John, taught, “He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up—if we do His will and walk in His commandments.

The letter of Barnabas states: “He who keeps these [commandments] will be glorified in the kingdom of God.”

David Bercot concluded: “In fact, every early Christian writer who discussed the subject of salvation presented this same view.” Bercot was careful to note that the early Christian writers also taught that we cannot be saved without the grace of Christ. In other words, he noted that grace and works are inextricably tied together.

Which is precisely the LDS view – because that is the truth taught by the Saviour.

Posted in Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 4 -“Remember the New Covenant, Even the Book of Mormon”

1. Joseph Smith’s preparation to receive and translate the Book of Mormon

JS-H 1:27 I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until the twenty-first of September

‘From this time until the twenty-first of September, 1823, Joseph continued, as usual, to labor with his father, and nothing during this interval occurred of very great importance—though he suffered every kind of opposition and persecution from the different orders of religionists.
The third harvest time had now arrived since we opened our new farm, and all our sons were actively employed in assisting their father to cut down the grain and store it away in order for winter.’ (The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, SF Proctor and MJ Proctor, [SLC: Bookcraft, 1996], 101)
JS-H 1:28 Native cheery temperament

‘When Joseph warned the Saints against mortal imperfections, he did not raise himself above them, and they loved him for it. He cautioned a group of Saints newly arrived in Nauvoo against the tendency to be dissatisfied if everything was not done perfectly right. “He said he was but a man and they must not expect him to be perfect,” an associate recorded. “If they expected perfection from him, he should expect it from them, but if they would bear with his infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, he would likewise bear with their infirmities” (The Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 2, Journal, 1832–1842, ed. Dean C. Jessee [1992], 489).

Joseph had a “native cheery temperament”  JS—H 1:28 He delighted in the society of his friends. “He would play with the people,” one acquaintance recalled, “and he was always cheerful and happy” (Rachel Ridgeway Grant, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal 16 [Dec. 1905]: 551). He loved little children and often frolicked with them in a manner shocking to some accustomed to the exaggerated sobriety of other ministers. These warm, human qualities caused some to deny Joseph’s prophetic role, but they endeared him to many who knew him. Our records contain numerous adoring tributes like that of an acquaintance who said, “The love the saints had for him was inexpressible” (Mary Alice Cannon Lambert, Young Woman’s Journal, 16:554).

Despite his familiar and friendly style, the Prophet Joseph Smith was resolute in doing his duty. During a meeting to consider disciplining a man who had rejected the counsel of the Presidency and the Twelve, he declared: “The Saints need not think because I am familiar with them and am playful and cheerful, that I am ignorant of what is going on. Iniquity of any kind cannot be sustained in the Church, and it will not fare well where I am; for I am determined while I do lead the Church, to lead it right” (History of the Church,5:411). On another occasion he wrote, “I am a lover of the cause of Christ and of virtue chastity and an upright steady course of conduct & a holy walk, I despise a hypocrite or a covenant breaker” (The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee [1984], 246).’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 1996)

JS-H 1:33-35 First appearance of Moroni

‘In 1822, Joseph began helping his older brother Alvin build a new frame house for the family. By September of 1823, it was two stories high but without a roof. The family continued to live in their small log house.

Here late in the evening on Sunday, 21 September 1823, seventeen-year-old Joseph retired for the night. Concerned about his standing before the Lord, he earnestly prayed for forgiveness of his sins. He was confident that he would again receive a divine manifestation. Suddenly his room filled with light and a heavenly messenger stood by his bedside in partial fulfillment of the great prophecy of John the Apostle (see Revelation 14:6–7).’ (Church History in the Fulness of Time Institute Manual)

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2. The miracle of the Book of Mormon’s preservation

JS-H 1:60 Persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me

‘After bringing home the plates, Joseph now commenced work with his father on the farm in order to be as near as possible the treasure that was committed to his care.
Soon after this, he came in from work one afternoon, and after remaining a short time, he put on his greatcoat and left the house. I was engaged at the time in an upper room in preparing some oilcloths for painting. When he returned, he requested me to come downstairs. I told him that I could not leave my work just then, yet upon his urgent request, I finally concluded to go down and see what he wanted, upon which he handed me the breastplate spoken of in his history.
It was wrapped in a thin muslin handkerchief, so thin that I could see the glistening metal and ascertain its proportions without any difficulty.
It was concave on one side and convex on the other, and extended from the neck downwards as far as the center of the stomach of a man of extraordinary size. It had four straps of the same material for the purpose of fastening it to the breast, two of which ran back to go over the shoulders, and the other two were designed to fasten to the hips. They were just the width of two of my fingers (for I measured them), and they had holes in the end of them to be convenient in fastening.
The whole plate was worth at least five hundred dollars. After I had examined it, Joseph placed it in the chest with the Urim and Thummim.
Shortly after this circumstance, Joseph came to the house in great haste and inquired if there had been a company of men there. I told him no one had come to the house since he left. He then said that a mob would be there that night, if not before, to search for the record, and that it must be removed immediately.
Soon after, one Mr. Braman came from the neighboring village of Livonia, a German man in whom we reposed much confidence and who was well worthy of the same. Joseph told him his apprehensions of a mob being there that night and that they must prepare themselves to drive them away; but the first thing to be attended to was to secrete the record and breastplate.
It was resolved that a portion of the hearth should be taken up and the plates and breastplate should be buried under the same, and then the hearth relaid to prevent suspicion.
This was carefully and speedily done, but the hearth was scarcely relaid when a large company of armed men came rushing up to the house. Joseph threw the door open and, taking a hint from the stratagem of his Grandfather Mack, hallooed as if he had a legion at hand, giving the word of command with great importance. At the same time, the males that belonged to the house, from the father down to little Carlos, ran out with such vehemence upon the mob that it struck them with terror and dismay, and they fled before our little Spartan band away into the woods, where they dispersed themselves to their several homes.
We had but a few days rest, however, before Joseph received another intimation of the approach of a mob and the necessity of removing the record and breastplate again from their hiding place. Consequently, Joseph took them out of the box in which they had been placed, wrapped them in clothes, carried them across the road to a cooper’s shop, and laid them in a quantity of flax which was stowed in the shop loft. He then nailed up the box as before and tore up the floor and put the box under it.
As soon as it was dark, the mob came and ransacked the place, but did not come into the house. After making a satisfactory search, they went away.
The next morning we found the floor of the cooper’s shop taken up and the wooden box which was put under it split to pieces.
In a few days we learned the cause of this last move and why their curiosity had led them in the direction of the cooper’s shop. A young woman, who was a sister to Willard Chase, had found a green glass through which she could see many wonderful things, and among the rest of her discoveries, she said she had found out the exact place where “Joe Smith kept his gold bible.” And so in pursuance to her directions, they gathered their forces and laid siege to the cooper shop, but went away disappointed.
This did not shake their confidence in Miss Chase, for they still went from place to place by her suggestion, determined to get possession of the object of their research.’ (The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, SF Proctor and MJ Proctor, [SLC: Bookcraft, 1996], 148-151)
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3. Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

‘The three men chosen as witnesses of the Book of Mormon were Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. Their written ‘Testimony of Three Witnesses’ has been included in all of the almost 100 million copies of the Book of Mormon the Church has published since 1830. These witnesses solemnly testify that they “have seen the plates which contain this record” and “the engravings which are upon the plates.” They witness that these writings “have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us.”

…People who deny the possibility of supernatural beings may reject this remarkable testimony, but people who are open to believe in miraculous experiences should find it compelling. The solemn written testimony of three witnesses to what they saw and heard-two of them simultaneously and the third almost immediately thereafter-is entitled to great weight.

…Measured against all…possible objections, the testimony of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon stands forth in great strength. Each of the three had ample reason and opportunity to renounce his testimony if it had been false, or to equivocate on details if any had been inaccurate. As is well known, because of disagreements or jealousies involving other leaders of the Church, each one of these three witnesses was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by about eight years after the publication of their testimony. All three went their separate ways, with no common interest to support a collusive effort. Yet to the end of their lives-periods ranging from 12 to 50 years after their excommunications-not one of these witnesses deviated from his published testimony or said anything that cast any shadow on its truthfulness.’ (Dallin H Oaks, “The Witness: Martin Harris,” Ensign, May 1999, 35-36)

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4. Our duty to “remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon”

D&C 84:55 The whole church under condemnation

“Some of the early missionaries, on returning home, were reproved by the Lord in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants because they had treated lightly the Book of Mormon. As a result, their minds had been darkened. The Lord said that this kind of treatment of the Book of Mormon brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all of the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, ‘And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon.’ (See D&C 84:54–57.) Are we still under that condemnation? …

“… Grave consequences hang on our response to the Book of Mormon. ‘Those who receive it,’ said the Lord, ‘in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life;

“‘But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation—

“‘For the Lord God has spoken it.’ (D&C 20:14–16.)

“Is the Book of Mormon true? Yes.

“Who is it for? Us.

“What is its purpose? To bring men to Christ.

“How does it do this? By testifying of Christ and revealing his enemies.

“How are we to use it? We are to get a testimony of it, we are to teach from it, we are to hold it up as a standard and ‘hiss it forth.’

“Have we been doing this? Not as we should, nor as we must.

“Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.

“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life.” (Ezra Taft Benson, In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, pp. 96–97; or Ensign,May 1975, p. 65.)